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Tomato End Rot?

kchiarinikchiarini Posts: 66 ✭✭✭
edited October 2020 in Pest & Weed Problems/Solutions

I'm new to gardening so I think that's what it's called. I planted 18 San Marzano tomato plants (did I know that if you plant 18 seeds, you get 18 plants? - Call me lucky or dumb!) , and I see a brown circle on the bottom of some of these little green tomatoes.. Within several of them, I see some tomatoes have it, and some don't. And two others, all tomatoes have it. :( I pulled off the brown ones - was that the right thing to do? How can I prevent the others from getting this? Is it contagious? I'm assuming they just stop growing, right, and are inedible?

On another note, due to extremely heavy rain the other day, one plant in a large garbage pail had so much water in it, I had to scoop out a bunch of water. Poor thing looks like it's done! The leaves look super droopy... Is there something I can do to bring it back to life other than not giving it anymore water?

I so welcome and appreciate your advice!

PS Sorry the pic is so big. Not sure how to make it smaller!


  • toreytorey Posts: 2,752 admin

    @kchiarini Are there drainage holes in your bucket? If it is sitting on the ground, it might not be able to drain properly. Set the bucket on a couple of bricks to raise it a bit or put it on a bed of gravel to facilitate draining.

    Blossom end rot may be caused by inconsistent water, as in too much and then not enough. Too much nitrogen in the soil could be the problem. You should use a fertilizer that is higher in phosphorus. It could also be a lack of calcium. There is a commercial product (probably more than one) that you can use to stop blossom end rot. I read somewhere recently that if you dissolve egg shells in a bit of vinegar and then add a small amount to your watering can, that it would help but I have no experience with that. Yes, pick them off. It will encourage the plant to set more fruit.

    Hope that helps to narrow down the problem(s) for you. Good luck with the rest of your harvest.

  • kchiarinikchiarini Posts: 66 ✭✭✭

    Thank you so much, Torey! Yes, I do have drainage holes in the ones in containers and for the ones in the ground, the water seems to drain as soon as I water it. I am going to try your suggestion of the egg shells with vinegar and spray it. That's a new one for me, but then again, everything is new! :)

    By the way, they are determinant tomatoes, so I don't believe they will continue to grow. Isn't that the definition of determinate? One and done, unlike indeterminant?

    Thank you again. I'll keep you posted.

  • toreytorey Posts: 2,752 admin

    @kchiarini As I understand it, the difference between determinate and indeterminate is the growth habit of the plant. Indeterminate plants will grow very tall and need staking. Determinate plants grow to a shorter height and, I think, tend to be bushier. So they make for better field crop tomatoes, not needing the whole staking and tying program. They should continue to grow and produce more flowers (and tomatoes) until a frost or the end of the growing season for your area.

  • kchiarinikchiarini Posts: 66 ✭✭✭

    @torey , I certainly hope you are right about the determinate ... that they keep growing. I did read that determinate grow shorter and bushier, like you said, but that they stop growing. But I like your explanation more, and since you know a hell of a lot more than me, I'm going with what you say,! These seeds were purchased in Italy when I was there so they may do whatever the hell they want...a very strong characteristic of Italians :) I'll keep you posted. Thank you again!

  • toreytorey Posts: 2,752 admin

    @kchiarini I planted San Marzano tomatoes a few years ago and was really pleased with them. I don't recall what the package said but I do remember that they were quite tall and needed staking. I have them growing this year and they don't seem to be growing like that even though this package said indeterminate. I put stakes in their pots but they are no where near as tall as the cherry varieties that are indeterminate and growing next to them. Don't know if they are just stunted or if they are going to take off if they ever get some hot weather. I will be interesting to see what happens to both of our crops. I don't even have flowers yet. So cold and wet here. Just had our first salad from the garden. Normally we would have been eating greens for at least 6 weeks.

  • GardenGrubGardenGrub Posts: 11 ✭✭✭

    I posted this elsewhere but I had tomatoes that looked exactly like yours in prior years. This year I'm applying calcium water about every other week. Calcium water is equal parts ground egg shells and vinegar. Let sit 1 hour or more than take 1 TBSP of the liquid and mix with a gallon of water. The calcium water is immediately accessible to plants. No blossom end rot this year for me and my tomatoes started to produce fruit earlier.

    I wish I could say I thought this up but some other brilliant person came up with the idea. I can just say it works.

  • toreytorey Posts: 2,752 admin

    @GardenGrub Thanks for posting the instruction for the calcium water. I couldn't remember exactly how much of the calcium solution went into how much water.

  • kchiarinikchiarini Posts: 66 ✭✭✭

    @GardenGrub , thank you so much for this. Yes, @torey was the one who suggested it. I was planning on doing it today. Have to go buv vinegar! Thanks so much. Hopefully, it will save the ones that look ok for now.

    You guys are awesome! You are helping to make my first year of gardening so much easier than if I had to go it alone!

  • toreytorey Posts: 2,752 admin

    @kchiarini That's what the Street Team is here for! To help make each others lives simpler and easier, to encourage positive growth.

  • kchiarinikchiarini Posts: 66 ✭✭✭

    @GardenGrub, hi, again! Time got away from me. OK, I took your formula and going to put it in a spray bottle. Am I to water the roots with it or spraying/pouring it on already bottom-rotten tomatoes and/or those that have not rot on them. There are so many that are rotten on the bottom. Someone said you can just cut that off before you eat them, and just leave them on the vine to continue growing. Does that sound right to you?

    Thanks so much. If they are a success, it's because of you!

  • FergFerg Currently United States, Appalachia. Previously Great Lakes, GNYMA, Germany.Posts: 290 ✭✭✭
    edited July 2020

    @GardenGrub calcium water is genius! I usually just save all my eggshells, grind them up and add them to the growing media of my seeds/seedling and then when I'm transplanting into where they will actually gros.

    @kchiarini Blossom end rot is usually a calcium deficiency in the plant (there is an actual pathogen that can cause it too, but it's much rarer). Some plants are much more susceptible, like the Romas. You can use wolastonite or ground up eggshells to help increase the calcium, but once your fruit starts in, like GardenGrub said, if the deficiency is there, it's too late.

    I know people like Romas, but except for my Orange Jubilee (which is also susceptible), i just try to avoid plants that have calcium issues.

  • kchiarinikchiarini Posts: 66 ✭✭✭

    @GardenGrub , well, that breaks my heart knowing that it's too late for the tomatoes that have formed. Can I just cut off the bottom and eat it anyway, or will the taste be too funky?

    So sad....thank you, my gardening friend.

  • kchiarinikchiarini Posts: 66 ✭✭✭

    @torey , good luck to both of us with our tomatoes! Let me know how yours are and I'll do the same.

  • kchiarinikchiarini Posts: 66 ✭✭✭

    @GardenGrub , I took your advice and made the calcium solution and poured it on my 18 tomato plants two days ago. I will watch them like a hawk now. Up until today, I'm seeing additional tomatoes with rot on the bottom, but the tomatoes are bigger, so the rot doesn't impact their growth, apparently. I decided I'm going to leave them on the stem and see how they go. I don't think it's a disease that will spread, right? I believe somewhere here said to leave them and just cut off the bottom to eat them. I did notice that the ones with the rotten bottom are turning red while the others are still green. That's interesting, right? Anyway, stay tuned..and I welcome any additional thoughts from you gurus! Thank you!

  • KimWilsonKimWilson Posts: 198 ✭✭✭

    I actually save my eggshells and let them dry. Then I grind them up and sprinkle liberally on the gardens when I clean off the botanicals after harvest, again in the spring when I am getting my beds ready to plant, and then even around the base of the seedlings. The eggshells are ground pretty fine when I do this, but blossom end rot has not been a problem since I have started this practice.

  • JannajoJannajo Ms. Pointe-Claire, QuebecPosts: 173 ✭✭✭

    Here I have found that rot on a few tomatoes (of a neighbor's pot) and they were cut off and not used, but on my own plants, the leaves got the disease, , most of the leaves spotted brown, so I removed them-like, every single one, and all started off afresh and r well now! Not much harvest, bit cold at the first -hence, the problems?

  • maimovermaimover Posts: 340 ✭✭✭

    Just found same on my San Marzano’s. Luckily just last week I ground up some dried eggshells for the chickens. Not feeling so swell today; hopefully tomorrow I can catchup outside...

  • marjstrattonmarjstratton Posts: 306 ✭✭✭

    I planted a San Marzano this year. The first few tomatoes to set had blossom end rot. I have not had that problem with other tomato varieties that I have planted. I have my tomatoes in pots on a back porch with a roof. They don't get rained on. I have added some egg shells to the soil, but that really wouldn't have had time to work yet. I have several tomatoes that are set now. They haven't yet matured to the point where the tomatoes that were affected been when I had seen the rot. So I am keeping an eye on the situation.

    By the way, I picked one of my tomatoes with end rot, cut it of and fried the good part. Quite tasty.

  • bmaverickbmaverick Posts: 175 ✭✭✭

    One of those green tomatoes looks like bottom end rot. This is typical if the plant has leaves from the soil to about 4-inches up. Improved airflow and less disease with no leaves from the ground to about 4-inches up.

    Another concern is this, these went nearly full term and are still green. Chances are the plant has too many leaves to allow sunlight to turn them yellow/orange and then red. Tomatoes plant pruning can solve this problem too. Some easy reading material. Education brings knowledge and knowledge is power.

    Look and save the illustrations on this page. It's a must for every tomato garden lover!

  • kchiarinikchiarini Posts: 66 ✭✭✭

    @bmaverick , thank you so much for your response and those videos. I hope they distinguish between indeterminant and determinant b/c I've heard so often not to prune determinant tomatoes, which all of my plants are, I will surely look at these videos for sure. Very sweet of you to post them for me.

    I don't think my problem stems (no pun intended :) ) from too many leaves. Again, despite my reading that it isn't wise to prune determinant plans, I remove excess leaves daily to allow plenty of air flow and also because they use up energy. Of course, I'm not 100% sure what they mean by pruning: I think it's removing excess leaves, and not just the suckers, right?

    I'm not 100% sure I understand what you mean by : typical if the plant has leaves from the soil to about 4-inches up. There are no leaves from the soil to about 3" up and the blossom end rot are on the ones close to the top. Does that make sense?

    You made a point that is so important! Many of my tomatoes that look almost full grown - nice and plump - are still green! And most of them don't have the blossom end rot, though. By the way, the tomatoes that have blossom end rot are on the same plant and stalk of the beautiful full green tomatoes that don't have blossom end rot. I keep waiting for them to change color. It never occurred to me that they may not! Oh, no!!!! Patience was never one of my strengths, so I just have been waiting daily. Since I heard I have to wait until August, I thought it just wasn't their time yet. I have to consider what you said. If I give them until mid-August and they don't turn, God I hope that doesn't happen, should I pull them and eat them now?

    Thanks so much. I am so appreciative!!!

  • VermontCathyVermontCathy Posts: 522 ✭✭✭✭

    Wow. A little bit of blossom end rot is common, and you can just cut that part off and not eat it. But I have not seen it happen when tomatoes are still green, and I've never seen it take up that much of the tomato.

    I've read suggestions to heavily prune the lower stems from tomato plants once they grow tall in order to get more airflow around them and minimize mildew, rot, mold, etc. I did a little of that this year, but I'm not sure how much difference it made.

    My understanding is that determinate tomato plants are more or less one-and-done, and are used when you want a large crop in a short time that is harvested all at once. (Canning, for example, or other sauce.) I always grow indeterminates, so I don't have any experience with determinate varieties.

  • bmaverickbmaverick Posts: 175 ✭✭✭

    @kchiarini With just 'green' tomatoes, you may need to do the touch of hand and slight squeeze on them. Should they feel hard and firm, leave them alone on the plant. Should they feel soft/mushy to the point of too much squeezing they will pop, then take off the plant and sit them out. Now, there is a debate if setting them out in morning sun and shade in the afternoon is best to off-the-vine ripen. Morning sunlight is the best UV ratio for plants and fruit to ripen. Afternoon add the morning UV ration and additionally more heat. Tomatoes don't like elevated heat. They do love the sun.

    And yes, some tomato types will remain green with only a few selected changing colors.

  • kchiarinikchiarini Posts: 66 ✭✭✭

    @bmaverick , thank you so much for the advice. I found three that turned red and then are now in my home. Can't wait to taste them. I didn't know that tomatoes prefer morning light. I'll keep that in mind. Thank you again!

  • kchiarinikchiarini Posts: 66 ✭✭✭

    @VermontCathy, thank you for your response. I think these tomatoes may be a little confused where they are because I purchased the seeds in Sorrento, Italy. They may be rebelling because they don't want to be in Brooklyn, NY! Anyway, I have been cutting off the bottom stems and cutting more leaves where there is no air flow. Keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks!

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